For the Dolores Bears football team, 2013 proved to be challenging. Acclimating to a new head coach and system, players struggled through a difficult schedule and finished 1-7.
Challenging as the season was, solid play by several young players and renewed dedication provided hope for the future.
BIG WIN HIGHLIGHTS
In a season short on highlights, the Bears delivered one with a 34-0 road victory over Del Norte on Sept. 27.
Keying the Bears' victory was a 27-point fourth-quarter explosion, led by senior Ethen Upton, who finished with 168 yards rushing, 81 yards passing and three total touchdowns.
"The kids got fired up and started executing," said Bears' head coach Chris Trusler.
To say that the Bears' offense struggled during the 2013 season would be an understatement.
Plagued by poor offensive line play, the inability to accurately snap the ball and a lack of consistent play from the quarterback position, the Bears did not score in five of the team's eight games.
More often than not, the offense moved backwards, leaving players and coaches upset and frustrated.
"Because our offensive line is not getting the job done, we were unable to move the ball," said Trusler after his team's 46-0 loss to Monte Vista on Oct. 11.
IN FINAL SEASON
Bringing stability during the difficult season, four key seniors contributed for the Bears on and off the field.
Inside the lines, Ethen Upton, Evan Moore, Deano Valdez and Rusher Ammon delivered big plays while anchoring a Bears' defense.
Off the field, all three players stepped up to lead younger players, while instilling pride in the Bears' program.
"All four guys, they put leadership first," said Trusler of the team's seniors.
AN EXCITING FUTURE
As difficult as the 2013 was for the Dolores Bears, the future appears bright for the team.
Several key contributors, including quarterbacks Triston Medina and Jalen Balderrama, will return with strength and experience under their belts.
With a year of hard work on the field and in the weight room, the Bears should improve in 2014.